Stress in the Gulf of Aden
A couple traversing the Gulf of Aden who were friends of the recent pirate victims reflect on the stresses of life as they sail through these dangerous waters.
Word was out that U.S.A. vessels were being targeted in retaliation for one pirate justly convicted in the U.S.A. How irrational is this thinking? Some recommended we remove our flag. For us, there was no question about it. We were not going to remove our flag. It just wasn't in our values. We sailed with no lights or the emitting of an AIS signal, but we could still receive. We kept a U.S.-registered EPIRB ready to launch and told our son [our primary contact] that if an alarm was activated, it was due to an attack and send help immediately. We emailed our son, Geoff, that if we were captured we wanted the forces to take all aggressive measures even if it put us at risk. We still have an Australian EPIRB on board. We checked the radar often and also removed our reflector. Today we restored it. We did every reasonable thing we could think of to prepare. Actually, we do not consider ourselves in a safe zone yet. Finally, today, we are in a more patrolled zone with P3 airplanes overhead taking our I.D. info, and we hear them talk to warships on the radio. They asked if we'd seen any suspicious activity and reminded us that channel 16 was being monitored.
On February 26th, as I finish this, we caught up with s/v Joseba of France and Chulupa of the U.S.A., and we plan to travel the corridor with them. They are two of the three other boats in our group. S/V Senang of The Netherlands has taken the coastal route to cruise with German-speaking vessels. Eduardo, on Joseba, told us about an encounter they had just a few days ago when a 100-foot boat tried to get him to stop while he was sailing in an area about 100 miles off Socotra island, and they were waving a U.S.A. flag by hand off the bow, but did not contact him on radio. [We think they did not speak English.] He motored his boat erratically, winding all around, as well as he could, and they finally gave up. We consider any vessel that does not use radio contact for permission, a threat in this situation, and would do the same. If we see guns, we set and pitch the EPIRB!
We are still coping with our grief and anger over the loss of our friends. This will take time. There were tears and cries of anger and frustration. We have only read part of a few relayed articles to know about what is being reported concerning this situation and how it is expressed in the media. We both know that this was one of the most stressful and emotional events we have ever dealt with. At this time, we hope that there are more enlightened minds making decisions that will put a stop to this needless cruelty and acts of crime on the high seas against the rest of the world.
Today, our goal is to refuel in Aden, 400 miles away, and continue on as quickly as possible. We understand that the TTT rally has not reached Pakistan yet. We hope the coastal route will be safe for them. We sometimes wish we had weapons on board but they can be even more dangerous when outnumbered by pirates. We do wish we had bought a satellite phone.
We hope with all our hearts, that all the vessels arrive safely, both cruising boats and merchant ships. We hope some of the nice anchorages in the Red Sea allow us to recuperate and enjoy cruising our beloved sea again.
Presently, en route, just north of the safety corridor in Gulf of Aden....
Lynn Evans, Commodore, SSCA along with Chuck Evans, Commodore, SSCA
Beaufort SC is Cyan’s hailing port but our home base is Jacksonville, Florida.